This post is for those of you who’ve ever wondered about the place of youth work in the modern day! Pondered what its role is in a society where ‘achieving’ at school is the mantra … and where ‘qualifications’ are seen as THE key to unlock career, wealth and happiness! Yet knowing, at the same time, that many young people do not ‘achieve’ in school; and knowing too that youth unemployment is rising, so what price their ‘education’?
Then let me ask you to view this YouTube clip for a powerful reinforcement of that perspective!
I think that Sulibreezy calls it well! There is a huge difference between schooling and ‘education‘ but, in the modern day, the drive is for qualifications not a rounded perspective; league tables and ‘reputation’ win out; and people make choices on the basis of the masses rather than the individual.
I want you then to remember all of the young people you have encountered, like me, over many years, who had great qualities, abilities, strengths and character … and dreams to chase and aspirations to be fulfilled … and yet no ‘education’. I want you to remember all those who went on to do great things … like my recent experience of the young people in Delves Lane, who developed their own youth mutual ~ the first ever in the UK!
Then realise that youth work has long supported, guided and encouraged, often with huge success, those ‘non-achievers’! Why … because the quality of youth work lies in its informal educational approach. In its ability to inform, guide and advise, through the quality of workers’ relationships with young people and the level of interaction that is made possible by this. Through its ability to help young people grow their self-worth and self-esteem, to build their confidence, to develop their skills, abilities and strengths … and to raise their expectations.
So … what is the place of youth work in the modern day? I’d say it is needed now more than ever before!
Our challenge is to be creative in how we drive that work and elevate that agenda, without being restricted by outdated institutionalised thinking and outmoded perceptions of how these things can be delivered! That creativity rests with you and the young people you work with and for! Feel the fear, take the risk and embrace the change!